Passing the Devstack Gate

I've recently made some big changes to OpenStack's devstack gate scripts. As a developer, here's what you need to know about how they work, and what tools are available to help you diagnose a problem.

All changes to core OpenStack projects are "gated" on a set of tests so that it will not be merged into the main repository unless it passes all of the configured tests. Most projects require unit tests in python2.6 and python2.7, and pep8. Those tests are all run only on the project in question. The devstack gate test, however, is an integration test and ensures that a proposed change still enables several of the projects to work together. Currently, any proposed change to the following projects must pass the devstack gate test:

  • nova
  • glance
  • keystone
  • horizon
  • python-novaclient
  • python-keystoneclient
  • devstack
  • devstack-gate

Obviously we test nova, glance, keystone, horizon and their clients because they all work closely together to form an OpenStack system. Changes to devstack itself are also required to pass this test so that we can be assured that devstack is always able to produce a system capable of testing the next change to nova. The devstack gate scripts themselves are included for the same reason.

A Tour of the Devstack Gate

The devstack test starts with an essentially bare virtual machine, installs devstack on it, and runs some simple tests of the resulting OpenStack installation. In order to ensure that each test run is independent, the virtual machine is discarded at the end of the run, and a new machine is used for the next run. In order to keep the actual test run as short and reliable as possible, the virtual machines are prepared ahead of time and kept in a pool ready for immediate use. The process of preparing the machines ahead of time reduces network traffic and external dependencies during the run.

The mandate of the devstack-gate project is to prepare those virtual machines, ensure that enough of them are always ready to run, bootstrap the test process itself, and clean up when it's done. The devstack gate scripts should be able to be configured to provision machines based on several images (eg, natty, oneiric, precise), and each of those from several providers. Using multiple providers makes the entire system somewhat highly-available since only one provider needs to function in order for us to run tests. Supporting multiple images will help with the transition of testing from oneiric to precise, and will allow us to continue running tests for stable branches on older operating systems.

To accomplish all of that, the devstack-gate repository holds several scripts that are run by Jenkins.

Once per day, for every image type (and provider) configured, the script checks out the latest copy of devstack, and then runs the script. It boots a new VM from the provider's base image, installs some basic packages (build-essential, python-dev, etc), runs puppet to set up the basic system configuration for the openstack-ci project, and then caches all of the debian and pip packages and test images specified in the devstack repository, and clones the OpenStack project repositories. It then takes a snapshot image of that machine to use when booting the actual test machines. When they boot, they will already be configured and have all, or nearly all, of the network accessible data they need. Then the template machine is deleted. The Jenkins job that does this is devstack-update-vm-image. It is a matrix job that runs for all configured providers, and if any of them fail, it's not a problem since the previously generated image will still be available.

Even though launching a machine from a saved image is usually fast, depending on the provider's load it can sometimes take a while, and it's possible that the resulting machine may end up in an error state, or have some malfunction (such as a misconfigured network). Due to these uncertainties, we provision the test machines ahead of time and keep them in a pool. Every ten minutes, a job runs to spin up new VMs for testing and add them to the pool, using the script. Each image type has a parameter specifying how many machine of that type should be kept ready, and each provider has a parameter specifying the maximum number of machines allowed to be running on that provider. Within those bounds, the job attempts to keep the requested number of machines up and ready to go at all times. The Jenkins job that does this is devstack-launch-vms. It is also a matrix job that runs for all configured providers.

When a proposed change is approved by the core reviewers, Jenkins triggers the devstack gate test itself. This job runs the script which checks out code from all of the involved repositories, merges the proposed change, fetches the next available VM from the pool that matches the image type that should be tested (eg, oneiric) using the script, rsyncs the Jenkins workspace (including all the source code repositories) to the VM, installs a devstack configuration file, and invokes devstack. Once devstack is finished, it runs which performs some basic integration testing. After everything is done, the script copies all of the log files back to the Jenkins workspace and archives them along with the console output of the run. If testing was successful, it deletes the node. The Jenkins job that does this is the somewhat awkwardly named gate-integration-tests-devstack-vm.

If testing fails, the machine is not immediately deleted. It's kept around for 24 hours in case it contains information critical to understanding what's wrong. In the future, we hope to be able to install developer SSH keys on VMs from failed test runs, but for the moment the policies of the providers who are donating test resources do not permit that. However, most problems can be diagnosed from the log data that are copied back to Jenkins. There is a script that cleans up old images and VMs that runs once per hour. It's and is invoked by the Jenkins job devstack-reap-vms.

How to Debug a Devstack Gate Failure

When Jenkins runs gate tests for a change, it leaves comments on the change in Gerrit with links to the test run. If a change fails the devstack gate test, you can follow it to the test run in Jenkins to find out what went wrong. The first thing you should do is look at the console output (click on the link labeled "[raw]" to the right of "Console Output" on the left side of the screen). You'll want to look at the raw output because Jenkins will truncate the large amount of output that devstack produces. Skip to the end to find out why the test failed (keep in mind that the last few commands it runs deal with copying log files and deleting the test VM -- errors that show up there won't affect the test results). You'll see a summary of the devstack tests near the bottom. Scroll up to look for errors related to failed tests.

You might need some information about the specific run of the test. At the top of the console output, you can see all the git commands used to set up the repositories, and they will output the (short) sha1 and commit subjects of the head of each repository.

It's possible that a failure could be a false negative related to a specific provider, especially if there is a pattern of failures from tests that run on nodes from that provider. In order to find out which provider supplied the node the test ran on, search for "NODE_PROVIDER=" near the top of the console output.

Below that, you'll find the output from devstack as it installs all of the debian and pip packages required for the test, and then configures and runs the services. Most of what it needs should already be cached on the test host, but if the change to be tested includes a dependency change, or there has been such a change since the snapshot image was created, the updated dependency will be downloaded from the Internet, which could cause a false negative if that fails.

Assuming that there are no visible failures in the console log, you may need to examine the log output from the OpenStack services. Back on the Jenkins page for the build, you should see a list of "Build Artifacts" in the center of the screen. All of the OpenStack services are configured to syslog, so you may find helpful log messages by clicking on "syslog.txt". Some error messages are so basic they don't make it to syslog, such as if a service fails to start. Devstack starts all of the services in screen, and you can see the output captured by screen in files named "screen-*.txt". You may find a traceback there that isn't in syslog.

After examining the output from the test, if you believe the result was a false negative, you can retrigger the test by clicking on the "Retrigger" link on the left side of the screen. If a test failure is a result of a race condition in the OpenStack code, please take the opportunity to try to identify it, and file a bug report or fix the problem. If it seems to be related to a specific devstack gate node provider, we'd love it if you could help identify what the variable might be (whether in the devstack-gate scripts, devstack itself, OpenStack, or even the provider's service).

Contributions Welcome

All of the OpenStack developer infrastructure is freely available and managed in source code repositories just like the code of OpenStack itself. If you'd like to contribute, just clone and propose a patch to the relevant repository:

You can file bugs on the openstack-ci project:

And you can chat with us on Freenode in #openstack-dev or #openstack-infra

The next thing planned for the devstack-gate scripts is to start running Tempest, the OpenStack integration test suite, as part of the process. This will provide more thorough testing of the system that devstack sets up, and of course will help Tempest to evolve in step with the rest of the system.


ExiFilm: add film exposure metadata to EXIF tags of digital images

I just published ExiFilm, a suite of programs that I use with my large format film workflow, under the GPLv3.


When I'm shooting in the field I carry around a notepad of exposure record forms where I record subject information, luminosity, camera geometry, exposure values, and other notes.  This form is included in ExiFilm as a PostScript document.

I scan all of my film at a moderate resolution to JPEG files for digital light-table purposes.  It's convenient to have the notes that I took while shooting available with the files, and what better place to store them than in the files themselves.  The program ExiFilm is used to enter that information and add to the EXIF tags of the files.

I keep the original sheet film in a three ring binder, so to make the same information conveniently accessible with the film, the package includes a program that sets the metadata in the exposure record form and produces PostScript output of four exposure forms that I bind in right behind their corresponding sheet film.

From the README:

ExiFilm is a suite of programs that can be used to annotate digital images with information about the film exposure used to create them. In particular, it is designed for use with large format film cameras where the photographer may then scan the film to create a digital copy for a library or for digital processing.

By storing the exposure metadata in EXIF tags of scanned images, the photographer can have electronic access to the same information contained in the written record from the field from within an image viewer.  Further processing of the data can be done without the need to store the metadata in a separate database.


The file "" is a PostScript file that can be printed on US letter paper (or other sizes).  It is a single page of four exposure record forms design for large format photography.  The author trims the four forms and binds them together as a notepad to take into the field.  The PostScript program is hand-written and can be altered fairly easily.

The Python program "" provides a data entry screen similar to the form in "".  It takes an optional argument of a path to a directory with JPEG image files.  It will provide a drop-down list of JPEG files in the directory, and selecting one of the files will load the EXIF information from that file.  In this way it allows the user to quickly enter metadata for a number of scanned film images.  The metadata are saved immediately upon loading a new file or exiting the program.

The Python program "" loads the metadata previously entered with "" and produces pages similar to those in "" with the metadata typeset into the fields.  The resulting file may then be printed and bound into a photo archive with the original film.  Example usage:

  python /path/to/images 1 16 | lpr

Produces four pages of output including the metadata for image IDs 1 through 16.


James E. Blair

I love hacking Free Software and have been fortunate to do so professionally with some wonderful people and organizations throughout my career. This is my blog.